To an everyday slack jawed gomer, sittin in the cheap seats at yer gig, it’s always impressive to speak of “my manager”. Oh! Boy you have a manager?… you must really be talented! Yea, but what if your talent doesn’t include being a good judge of character? Managers in the music business have the reputation of any big city lawyer. They usually dress alike too. I’m sure the comparison is often deserved but hey, somebody has to be the bad guy so the rest of us can look like heroes. My manager had a standard formal apology letter ready to print out on any given week. Just fill in the blanks. I was always offending somebody. I wouldn’t have known about either except that people are often willing to be honest with your “representative” where they’d rather not confront you directly!
One of a myriad of mistakes an artist can make is to think that a manager is gonna turn you into somebody! No… that would be a make up artist! Who can be hired by a manager by the way. But a manager can only lie for you for so long! People aren’t stupid forever! Well maybe some. Like the loser who keeps firing his manager, using him as a scapegoat for why his career isn’t taking off.
You gotta think of a manager as the guy who runs the grocery store for you. He can bring insight, hook you up with vendors and basically organize your desires to sell vegetables. But bottom line? You better be making decisions about where you want to set up yer little fruit stand and how you want it to be seen. You might find someone who knows how to help you do that too. Call him a manager if you like but know who he is! And what he needs in order to be a part of it all.
Good advice is worth taking. (of course you gotta recognize good advice first). Success actually does have many fathers. It’s always gonna be an alliance! It takes a lot of people working in the same direction to achieve great things. A manager is the guy who connects all those people and keeps em from killing each other in the process.
I picked my manager though by the way he handled a particular artist when things couldn’t have been worse in the way of public perception. He rode out the hard times with very little hope of financial gain simply because he believed in the guy. If you sign a contract with someone who is merely looking for the bottom line… you’ll have a short relationship more often than not. Money comes and goes.
Don’t be bowled over by big talk either.. wild promises and that list of big shots he’s worked with in the past. They aren’t you! and why does he want to get on yer band wagon then? Look for someone who will tell you the uncomfortable truths before you sign up. A man long on compliments might be too needy himself.
Better to long for something you don’t have than to have something you don’t want.
You, my musical friend, must take the lead and the initiative in your dreams.
I personally don’t enjoy hashing out the details in a contract or reading the fine print. I’m attention deficit and I break out in a rash when entering a board room. I also don’t handle confrontation very well. So it’s nice to have a mediator to step in early and come back and explain the chess game to me. We usually meet around a picnic table then… but that’s just me. And then I get to make a final decision after I’ve finished my sandwich and cool aid. Advisors are invaluable in any endeavor. No good leader is without them. But remember who the leader is, and where the responsibility really lies for success or failure.
Be wary of a guy who wants all his money up front too… they usually skip town before any work is done. You want someone who is willing to share in the rewards when they come, but remember, your career is your risk, not his. You’ve hired him to help and that will require payment, he’s basically a partner in your work not a babysitter!... unless you wanna write that into his job description.
A percentage of income is the usual way of doing biz with a manager. In most cases he’s lookin at the long haul while yer workin out the details in bringing the product.
Worst thing you can do is hire a manager out of desperation! I did that once back in the day, signed a hopeful promise, the band broke up within six months, the manager skipped out with ten thousand dollars for which he never returned a phone call.
I’ve been spared most of those stories I hear. But, thanks to a good manager, my best agreements were short term to begin with. They carried a mutual option clause so the ship could be turned should the weather get ugly.
Face one fact in all your decisions. No one person has the power to make things happen for you. It is a lottery ticket at best. Some have been luckier than others but understand that success comes more from showing up everyday, and not making too many wrong decisions. I’ve given credit for success to some people over the years, assuming their brilliance, only to find out they were just damn lucky! They were “managed” to be in the right spot at a good time. But a good manager acknowledges that those maneuvers don’t always guarantee the desired result.
If yer lookin for somebody to blame when things go wrong, save some money, buy a stuffed animal and hang him on a cross if it makes you feel better. If you wanna go somewhere, well, it’s your responsibility to figure out how to get there. Be careful though, about who you ask for directions.